Pfc. Paul Alexander Paden
Pfc. Paul A. Paden was the son of Samuel A. & Eva L. Paden. He was born in August 12, 1917, in Kansas and grew up in Center, Kansas. At some point, Paul moved to 814 Lincoln Street, Saint Joseph, Missouri, and lived with his brother and sister-in-law. He worked as truck driver for a delivery service and joined the Missouri National Guard.
On February 10, 1941, Paul was inducted into the U. S. Army at Saint Joseph, Missouri. He was sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington, where he joined the 194th Tank Battalion. He was reassigned to HQ Company.
In September 1941, the 194th was sent to San Francisco, there they were inoculated and boarded onto a transport for the Philippine Islands. Arriving in the Philippines, the soldiers were sent to Ft. Stostenburg. They would spend the next several months training.
On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after Pearl Harbor, Paul lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. He would spend the next four months attempting to keep the tanks of his battalion supplied.
The evening of April 8, 1942, the tankers were informed that Bataan would be surrendered the next morning. It was on April 9th that Paul became a Prisoner of War.
He took part in the death march and was packed into small wooden box cars that were used to haul sugarcane. At Capas, the POWs climbed out of the cars and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
The conditions in the camp were so bad, that the as many as 50 men died each day. There was only one water faucet for the entire camp. The situation was so bad, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan. Paul was one of the healthier POWs, so he was sent there.
At some point, Paul was sent out on a work detail to Manila that repaired trucks and other equipment for the Japanese. The detail was known as the Bachrach Garage Detail. This was the name of a cab company in Manila. Paul would remain on this detail until 1944.
When Paul's group of POWs arrived at the Port Area of Manila early October 1944, they were boarded onto the Arisan Maru. They had been scheduled to be boarded onto the Hokusen Maru, but since one of the POW groups had not arrived on time, the Japanese switched groups and put another detachment of POWs on Paul's ship. With him, were the same POWs who had worked with him in Manila at the garage.
The POWs were packed into the ship's number two hold. Along the sides of the hold were shelves that served as bunks. These bunks were so close together that a man could not lift himself up while laying down. Those standing also had no room to lie down. The latrines for the prisoners were eight five gallon cans. Since the POWs were packed into the hold so tightly, many of the POWs could not get near the cans. The floor of the hold was covered with human waste.
The ship sailed on October 10th and took a southerly route away from Formosa. It arrived at a cove off Palawan Island where it dropped anchor. This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes. The Arisan Maru returned to the Manila nine days later. There, it became part of a twelve ship convoy for Formosa.
On October 21st, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea. The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs. This made the ships targets for submarines.
According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on October 24, 1944, around 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds. The ship was near Shoonan, off the coast of China. The POWs watched as the Japanese on deck ran to the bow of the ship. A torpedo from an American submarine passed the ship. The Japanese next ran to the stern of the ship and watched a second torpedo pass the ship. There was a sudden jar which was caused by the ship being hit by two torpedoes amidships. The ship stopped dead in the water. It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U. S. S. Snook.
The Japanese guards fired their guns at the POWs on deck to drive them into the holds. After they were in the holds, the Japanese cut the rope ladders and put the hatch covers on the holds. They then abandoned ship. Some of the POWs in the first hold were able to climb out and attached and lowered the rope ladders to those in the first hold. They also dropped rope ladders down to the POWs in second hold.
Many of the POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam. Others stuffed themselves with what was their last meal. Most of the POWs survived the attack but died because the Japanese refused to rescue them. The Japanese destroyers in the convoy deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them. Other Japanese crews pushed the POWs away from their ships with long poles. Those who attempted to climb onto the ships were beaten with clubs.
According to the five POWs who had reached an abandoned lifeboat, the Arisan Maru sank slowly into the water. At some point the ship broke in two where it had been struck by the torpedoes. The exact time of the ship's sinking was not known since it occurred at night. The cries for help slowly ceased until there was silence.
Pfc. Paul A. Paden lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea. Of the 1803 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking. Eight of the men survived the war. Since he was lost at sea, Pfc. Paul A. Paden's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.